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New Zealand Reliant On Overseas Nurses

5 August 2004

New Zealand Tops List of Countries

Reliant On Overseas Nurses

An international study has highlighted New Zealand's dependence on overseas trained nurses, describing that dependence as "largely symptomatic of failed policies and underinvestment in nursing".

"Over half of nurses seeking registration in New Zealand are overseas trained and we have woefully inadequate planning to ensure we have nurses in the future," said Geoff Annals, CEO of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation today.

"Not only are we foolishly competing with other wealthier developed countries in a worldwide market which is running out of nurses, but we are failing to acknowledge that the market is drying up."

New Zealand nursing workforce policy relies much more heavily on importing overseas trained nurses than other developed countries. 23% of NZ registered nurses are foreign trained, compared to 8% for both the UK and Ireland.

"Our policy of relying on overseas nurses to fix our nursing shortage is unsustainable and will run into major problems as a worldwide nurse shortage grows," said Geoff Annals.

While other developed countries were taking action to reduce their reliance on overseas nurses, in New Zealand the proportion of overseas trained nurses was increasing.

Overseas trained nurses accounted for around half of annual registrations with the NZ Nursing Council in the past five years. In the past two years overseas trained nurses have outnumbered NZ trained nurses gaining registration.

"In the context of a worldwide and worsening nursing shortage and where many developing countries are already crippled by shortages, New Zealand's failure to train enough nurses to meet our needs is poor international citizenship," said Geoff Annals.

"New Zealand should be increasing nursing training and addressing recruitment and retention issues by ensuring that pay and conditions make nursing a viable career option."


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